How can we help people with diabetes in a social media world?

I feel grateful that I grew up in a time where Facebook didn’t exist.

Twitter wasn’t a word and a ‘double tap’ could at best mean two faucet handles in a bathroom sink (one hot one cold, anyone remember?).

I can’t imagine all my silly decisions and “lesson learned” moments being so readily available for my peers and the world to see through social media.

Now this is going to make me sound old, but the power of words has also taken a different turn. People young and old can say whatever they want without it ever being traced back to them. There’s a loss in accountability. It’s one thing to tell someone (as they stand trembling with tears in their eyes) that they are ugly, worthless and that they should die, and quite another to do it behind a screen. Both are horrid though. I don’t need to tell you how bad cyber bullying has gotten.

Imagine what life would be like if people spoke as they wrote online? smh. <–that’s stands for ‘smack/shake my head’

Technology is a wonderful tool, but it also makes an impact we have yet to fully understand for the younger generation.




I see this all the time on all channels: a toxic combination of relentless anger, resentment and dark depression about living with diabetes. Someone made an incorrect assumption about diabetes, attack! Oh they didn’t specify type 1? Attack!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s annoying and of course feels personal when someone is miseducated about diabetes. Unfortunately blasting someone online doesn’t go very far even if you’re trying to educate them. Being hostile doesn’t set the tone for someone to open up their mind to what you have to say. From my observation, it’s an unfortunate cycle that never seems to end.

It’s saddening to read what seems to be a manifestation of pain, but it’s also a window into the minds of what some of these young people are going through. 

Maybe these angry diabetics aren’t REALLY angry and are exaggerating. Maybe not. Either way, it’s a cry for attention and they are screaming every which way.

Being on social media has opened me up to a world that I’ve never lived in before, and it’s scary. A world where some don’t take insulin because they are too embarrassed to do so in public. The burnout, ignoring diabetes for months on end, the shame, the guilt.

I understand fully that in real life, people are also more quick to complain and not as ready to celebrate the little joys in this world. I get that. But that doesn’t deter from the fact that it’s still a problem.


How do we educate the younger generation into a world of acceptance, responsibility, and a little less anger towards the uneducated and ignorant? How do we promote peace, understanding and use social media for good? I don’t claim to know the answers but what I do know is talking about it openly is the first step.

A lot of this is already happening but I think it needs to happen more. We need to talk to our health care professionals, diabetes companies, caregivers, teachers, anyone who will listen about what it’s like to live with diabetes (of any kind) in a social media world and what we observe.

There are fantastic resources online such as the DOC (Diabetes Online Community), live chats, and wonderful systems of support which need to be acknowledged. Wonderful bloggers and organizations are out there educating, supporting and providing much-needed help in the cyber universe. How do we harness all this good? By telling people about it.

We need to be more open-minded and learn how these kids are growing up with diabetes in a world consumed by social media.

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Canadian competitive speed skater Mallory Zorman starts new blog about type 1 diabetes

The name of her new blog?

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Q&A with Calgary’s Mallory Zorman

 Motto: “Diabetics can reach a high level in sports despite having the disease.”

photo 1-1.PNGWhy blog? “I hope that I am able to reach out and help other diabetics. I hope they can see how I’ve led an active life and know that they can do the same. From the few blogs I’ve recently read (including yours) I’ve learned a lot and been inspired – which is saying something considering I’ve had diabetes for 12 years.” Thanks Mallory for the lovely compliment! 

photo 1What’s the hardest part of diabetes? “There is no break. I work hard at school for 5 days, then it’s the weekend and I can take a break. Diabetes isn’t like that. It’s a 24/7 job and some days I don’t feel like putting in the effort.”

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What has diabetes taught you? “T1d has taught me so much. If I had to choose one thing, I’d probably say that it has taught me so much about my body. I can estimate my blood sugar very accurately based on how I feel. I know what foods make me feel good (brown rice) and which make me feel really bad (cake), even if I do insulin accordingly.”

What have you learned on the ice that you take off the ice? “From the ice, I’ve learned discipline. This has also helped my approach to diabetes. Whether it’s listening to my coach, going to bed early or eating right, this is what is meant by discipline in sport. I’ve made sacrifices in order to become a better skater, but at the end of the day I don’t regret anything.”

Always on the move

Mallory is currently studying biological sciences at University of Calgary.

Recently she retired from competitive skating to focus on medical school. However, the 19-year-old will continue to lace up recreationally and coach.

This summer she is running her first half marathon and continues to enjoy road biking, hiking and inline skating. She’s active in every season and encourages others to do the same.

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Mallory has become involved with her local JDRF chapter and works for Medtronic on occasion attending infosiums and pump sessions.

Click on any of the photos and browse

Mallory Zorman’s Insulin on Ice blog | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Find out what she uses for diabetes management here.
Mallory, we look forward to your blogs. Thank you for sharing your story with us, Canada and the world.
All photos courtesy of Mallory Zorman

New York Mets outfielder Cory Vaughn gets social media savvy, connecting with fellow type 1 diabetics

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March 3, 8:45 p.m.

I somehow find New York Mets outfielder Cory Vaughn on Twitter. He lives with type 1 diabetes?!

I add him. He adds me. I tell him what I’m trying to do with this site.

In less than 24 hours, I’m talking to him on the phone, sharing stories about athletics, diabetes and even girls.

This is the power of social media.

Here I am, a newly diagnosed type 1 blogger in Toronto who loves working out. And there he is, a baseball player heading for the major leagues, taking the time to chat with me from spring training camp in Florida.

We may not have spoken or even heard of each other a few weeks ago, but now, Cory is part of my d-family. And I’m part of his.

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Cory wasn’t always a social media fan. He got his first Twitter account in 2011 but stayed off of it.

“I have people yelling stuff at me during the whole game, why do I have to have that continue? I deleted the whole thing.”

In October 2013 he resurfaced with a new account.

“I realized I should just have fun with it. Not everyone is going to like you.”

Present attitude? Let the talkers talk.

Whether it’s about his game or something else, this MLB prospect has a great way of dealing with negativity. Example:

“On my news feed someone was posting absurd stuff… cussing every two seconds. I just unfollowed them.”

Cory says he got a direct message that made him chuckle.


Cory never responded.

“I thought, ‘What a good one. Who says that?'”

For me I’ve found the ignorance and stereotypes very difficult to deal with. Perhaps it’s because this is all so new. Maybe it’s because I still have that I-must-have-done-something-horrible-to-deserve-this mentality still lurking in the shadows of my unconscious.

I tell Cory this straight out. And then I proceed to ask him questions I want answered so desperately by those thriving with diabetes.

Me: How do you handle assumptions or stereotypes? What would you say?

 “Actually that’s not how it works. There’s no truth and in fact you might want to read up on it.”

No rudeness. Cory says he’d just inform them. If they were receptive, he would tell them more.

I’ve actually thought of what he told me a few times since we’ve chatted. And you know what? It made a difference!

Click on any of the images below to enlarge and read.

We agree online support is amazing, and I’m sure his jump back into social media is helping many. A successful sportsman who is damn proud of his diabetes?  YES!

As we continue to chat, I tell him that on top of the diabetes online community (DOC), face-to-face support has been the most influential for me. My d-friend circle has been an instrumental part in my acceptance of the disease.

This is when I introduce Cory to Connected In Motion, a group that provides tons of programming for adults living with type 1 diabetes in Canada (the only one of it’s kind here!).


Not only is Cory a type 1 diabetic athlete, he’s also proud and wants people to know he’s chasing dreams and living the life he wants.

“I brag about having diabetes. Take pride in it. Embrace it. It makes us stronger. A lot of people have no idea what we deal with. Stay strong.”

If you’re interested in connecting with Cory, visit him on Twitter and Instagram.

Thank you Cory for taking the time to speak to me 🙂

I’ll really be caught in a bind the next time the Jays play the Mets. We have pitcher Brandon Morrow, another t1d athlete! So who should I root for? Cory gives me a warning.

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Watch Cory in action:

MLB Video Vaughn’s Terrific Catch

MLB Video Vaughn on AFL, Advice from Dad

MLB Video Vaughn’s two hits against the Yankees

Can you be happy for 100 days?




Find out more on 100happydays here.

You choose the start date. Every day take a picture of what made you happy. Share on social media using the hastag #100happydays or you can also submit privately as well to the project.

71% of people tried to complete this challenge, but failed quoting lack of time as the main reason. These people simply did not have time to be happy. Do you?

People successfully completing the challenge claimed to:

 – Start noticing what makes them happy every day;
 – Be in a better mood every day;
 – Start receiving more compliments from other people;
 – Realize how lucky they are to have the life they have;
 – Become more optimistic;
 – Fall in love during the challenge.
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It’s that simple. My start date was Saturday March 8, 2014. I’ll post all my photos below.


Will you join me?

Feeling happy, so here’s a video I hope makes you feel that way too:

Let’s have a great week 🙂


Going online: best & worst idea for someone newly diagnosed with diabetes (or anything for that matter)

When WebMD first came out, I was one of many who turned to the website when I felt the slightest symptom.
A cough: Was it a sign of the common cold, a debilitating throat infection or a warning of some pretty serious disease? Take your pick. Want to scare yourself silly? Start browsing.

We all know how the internet works. It’s a free-for-all for anyone with an idea and a connection. And although we know we should screen what we absorb online, sometimes proper judgement gets thrown to the wayside. This could happen when, let’s say, you are diagnosed with a disease you know nothing about and are told you will have to rely on insulin to survive.


It makes sense really, a wealth of information right at your fingertips, a range of opinions and seemingly good answers to questions that would take hours to answer in a doctor’s office.

But there’s a great danger out there if you are in an emotionally vulnerable state of mind.

I didn’t realize it myself until now. What I read and who I communicated with (willingly or not) has definitely shaped how I view diabetes.
I was so overwhelmed with it all, and I found reaching out to people on Twitter made me feel less alone. On the flip side, sometimes my feed would seem like a storm of people complaining. I thought of myself 5 years later, a decade…would I be just as angry and resentful of my condition?

I sometimes got private messages from people who told me my doctors were wrong, that what I was doing wasn’t the “right way”. But when I felt so incredibly sad and frustrated, here were a bunch of strangers who understood what I was going through.

Today I’m much more selective of how I screen diabetes information. I look at how I conduct myself online much like how I should in all other aspects of life. I must be careful and selective of who I trust, be surrounded by those who will uplift and inspire me, and spend my time wisely. 

The online world has changed how we communicate but online or not, some things remain the same. There will be positives and negatives (opinions, people), those to be trusted and others with false claims. Do your research and do things that make you feel comfortable.

Tips to tackle the online world with a health challenge: 
  • Filter, filter, filter. Many social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook) allow you to make lists so you can choose what you want to see. I have my lists filtered so if I don’t want to come online and read about diabetes-related news/info that day, I don’t have to come across it.
  • Ask yourself who is the creator and what is the motive? A good exercise is to repeat the information given and ask yourself if you would trust it if a stranger said it to you on the street.
  • Verify reputation. Has this person been mentioned on other sites? Are they featured in reputable publications? Do a quick search and find out more. There are a lot of people who claim to be experts who have little to no educational background on the subject.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask. Not sure where to turn to for information online? Ask the experts. E-mail an organization and ask who or what sites they’d recommend for topic x. Find well established and respected online sources and see who they mention in links and go from there. Call for help on Twitter. Word of mouth can often lead you to the best resources.
  • Give an attitude check. Yes, the internet is a place where people like to pour out complaints. I think people are more likely to complain online than in real life about certain issues, but the internet is also home to tons of inspirational stories. There are tons of sites dedicated to people who may have similar health challenges who are defying the odds and living each day to the fullest. What kind of outlook do you want to have on life? That’s what you should be searching and bookmarking.

Safe surfing,